Long-time married couples know there are times when you feel closer to your spouse than others. Occasional feelings of emotional distance are inevitable in any relationship. One of the biggest causes of emotional distance has to do with time management. Sometimes individuals get so busy with their lives they neglect working on their marriage. The marriage relationship always takes work and work requires time invested in the relationship. Periods of emotional distance often occur when you are the busiest - after the birth of your first child or during the career building stage. While a certain amount of this is normal in any healthy relationship, if this distance goes on for too long it can lead to more permanent estrangement. If you feel that the emotional closeness you once shared has begun to slip away, the following suggestions will help you to bring back your former marital intimacy.

1. Spend a weekend together

Going away alone together for several days forces you to interact without letting other distractions get in the way. Because your sole purpose is to have a good time with each other, taking time away allows you to relax and just enjoy one another's company. It is also a great way to send your spouse the message that they are important to you.

2. Imagine yourselves courting again

Try to remember how you felt about your spouse while you were dating and why. What were some of the things that attracted you to your partner in the first place? Make an effort to do some of the things you did while dating such as, holding hands, flirting and going out regularly together.

3. Periodically check in with each other

Ask your spouse, "How are you feeling?" or "What do you think about this?" on a regular basis. Show that you are concerned about your spouse's well-being and happiness. This simple expression of interest can open the doors to conversation and increased communication.

4. Set aside 22 minutes each day to talk

This is the length of time it takes to watch one sitcom on television. Surely, your marriage is worth replacing one unimportant television show with some much needed interaction. Don't allow children, telephone calls, the computer or other distractions interrupt this time together. If you can't fit in 22 minutes, shoot for 14. Try to do this every day at a set time and stick to it.

5. Make your discussions exploratory instead of accusatory

If your spouse feels the only time the two of you talk is when you want to complain about something, he or she will be less inclined to open up. Let your conversations stray from problems and focus on other things. Talk about your goals or a new hobby that interests you. Make plans for your next date or just talk about something interesting that you heard at work or on the news. If you treat your spouse like a friend instead of an adversary your relationship will improve immensely.

6. Expect to feel awkward at first

If you haven't been in the habit of sharing intimate feelings or opening up to your spouse, you may feel uncomfortable at first. This will get easier the more you practice. Try to remember that your spouse wants a close relationship as much as you, but is probably equally unsure how to go about it. Be upfront about how you feel. Your spouse most likely feels the same way.

7. Visit a marriage counselor

This is not an admission of defeat or weakness; rather it is a way for a trained professional to help you learn some techniques for better communication and cooperation. Human relationships can be complex and confusing at times, and it takes knowledge and practice to navigate them successfully. If you are having trouble establishing the closeness you desire, it is worth it to seek outside help.

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